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Patron in the City: Margo Dalal

Patron in the City: Margo Dalal

We believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City.

Margo Dalal is passionate about her city of Detroit, Michigan and building a vibrant community. Margo said it best herself during our interview, “I suppose my role is just that — I like making projects that benefit the community happen.” And that is why she is a Patron in the City.

At Patronicity, we believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City, dedicating their time, sweat, and tears to building vibrant communities. We recently spoke with Margo to learn more about her passion for community and how she serves as a Patron in the City.

About Margo Dalal

Margo: I was born and raised in Virginia and moved to Detroit right after completing a cross country bike tour in 2013, where I visited Detroit and it had a lasting impression on me. Almost immediately, I used my educational background in entrepreneurship and architecture to support business owners in the city. After co-founding the Detroit Community Wealth Fund, I knew I wanted to start a cooperative venture, and so I co-founded Public Thrift with two friends in 2019. I like starting projects and coaching others on their community-focused ventures. One of my favorites has been the Detroit Kite Festival, which happens on Belle Isle in the summer.

Margo Dalal currently serves as the Executive Director of the Detroit Community Wealth Fund. She has participated in several Patronicity crowdfunding campaigns for Public Thrift and the Detroit Kite Festival.

Q: Why do you love where you live?

Margo: The people. Detroit has the best people, anyone will agree. Detroiters know how to take care of one another, stand for social justice, and make incredible beautiful creations of art and music, welcoming others into what is going on. I am constantly inspired and humbled by the people here.

Q: Tell us about your community and why your project, Public Thrift, is important.

Margo: Public Thrift wants to be an example of a worker-owned cooperative. We think clothing and retail should be affordable and reduce the impact on the environment. We want to model how we think businesses should operate here. It’s also a way to give ownership to young people. Everyone in Public Thrift will be an owner, they can make decisions and share in profits of the business. All of us have spent long hours in underpaid jobs in the food industry and in nonprofits. We want to be able to build jobs for ourselves that are nurturing and dignified.

Q: How has Public Thrift changed your community for the better?

Margo: What is better than an affordable thrift store owned by the community? We are building partnerships with organizations and mutual aid groups to help coordinate donating items they might need, and we want to use the space for community events and educational activities as much as possible. Public Thrift was open in Corktown for a few months before the pandemic, and in that short amount of time we had many repeat customers, and hosted several events. It was overall an excellent experience and we want to keep that energy going.

Public Thrift Pop-Up
Public Thrift Pop-Up

Q: What inspired you to get involved and build Public Thrift?

Margo: My day job is to help people build cooperative businesses and I wanted to be a worker-owner myself and get that experience. I love thrifting and I love objects. I thought a thrift store would be a perfect combination and would be an opportunity to make a lot of customers happy.

Q: How has the community responded to the project and your efforts to build a vibrant community? What do you hope community members take away from this project?

Margo: People are very supportive of our project. We have been successful at raising funds to open up our storefront in Hamtramck and people are constantly asking to donate items. We hope that people choose us over other thrift stores, because our goal is to impact our local community and create good jobs here. We hope we are successful enough to expand our store locations in the future.

Margo Dalal (pictured far left) with friends at the Detroit Kite Festival
Margo Dalal (pictured far left) with friends at the Detroit Kite Festival

Q: If someone wanted to become more involved in their community, what advice would you give them?

Margo: I think the first step is finding a few people to do it with. It is easy to join in and volunteer somewhere, show up to a march or demonstration, get involved with canvasing to support tenants rights or local politics, check out community gardens volunteer hours, etc. But I think it is most impactful and fun when you have someone or a team to do it with.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

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